In what is being investigated as an Islamophobic hate crime, a 36-year-old Scottish-Muslim woman was approached by a man who pulled a lighter out and walked away without a word. The woman said she noticed her sleeve was “charred and smoldering”, though the fire was doused before she was injured.
The attack occurred while the woman was shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City and the timing of the incident in New York and the September 11th anniversary has not gone unnoticed. The suspect was last seen on East 54th St. in Midtown, witnesses last place him walking down the street wearing all black and a backwards black cap.
NYC HATE CRIMES THIS WEEK
In an interview with The Daily News, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that he would be “concerned” because
“it’s a symptom of an overall rise in Islamophobic sentiment in our society.”
Two days earlier, two Muslim women were attacked in Brooklyn while pushing strollers. A young woman shouted “Get the f*ck out of America, you don’t belong here” along with pro-Trump epithets.
The woman, Emirjeta Xhelili, attempted to forcefully remove the women’s hijabs while striking their heads, after which she knocked over their strollers and started attacking their children.
RISE IN ISLAMOPHOBIA IN THE UNITED STATES
Since the 2001 attacks, a rise in hate crimes against Islam increased 1,600%. According to an FBI Report [PDF], in the “first 6 years after 9/11, there were 800 reported incidents of violence, threats, vandalism and arson against persons perceived to be Muslim or of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian origin”.
Prior to 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims were almost non-existent. After the Twin Tower attacks put Islamic terrorism in the public eye, the hate crime incidents are in the hundreds even 15 years later.
When it comes to the rise in hate crimes, Deputy Attorney General James Cole states in the FBI Report that
“the Justice Department is doing everything possible to protect the national security and to keep America safe from those who would do us harm. We will never waiver in that commitment, but we also, fully and completely, are committed to protecting the civil rights and the civil liberties of all of our people. Those two critical goals are not inconsistent. While to some it might seem easier to focus only on national security with little regard for civil rights or the Constitution, or conversely to protect civil rights and civil liberties at the cost of national security, we at the Department disagree. We can, we must, and we will do both.”
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